Papa John’s founder reunited with beloved Camaro, gives away free pizza

“Papa” John Schnatter saved his family’s business in 1983, but he had to sell his beloved 1971 1/2 Camaro to do it.

He was too heartbroken to watch his beloved ride drive off into the sunset. And the business, that eventually grew into Papa John’s Pizza. Becoming a wealthy man in the intervening years, Schnatter never stopped looking for his Camaro, and thanks to the internet, the story eventually had a happy ending.

With the $2,800 he received for the Camaro he was able to save the family business and launch Papa John’s, a business that now numbers at more than 3,000 pizzerias in 26 countries with a market value of three-quarters of a billion dollars. He had a lot, but Papa John still missed that Camaro. So Schnatter started looking for it.

Schnatter searched for the car throughout the 90s, even employing an ex-FBI agent in the search. When he couldn’t locate the vehicle, he had a replica built, but predictably, it just wasn’t bitchin’ enough. The blog Jalopnik got involved in the search, and after dropping $25K on a “finder’s fee” to the original buyer, Schnatter managed to locate the original vehicle. And for an additional $250K, the keys to his original Camaro were his again.

Schnatter was so happy to finally have his car back that he’s giving away free pizza at all Papa John’s locations today. The catch? You’ve got to go get it, in your Camaro.